The High Line
The High Line was an elevated rail line from 34th Street to Spring Street that opened in 1934. It was part of Robert Moses' West Side Improvement, a massive 13-mile-long project that eliminated 105 street/railroad crossings and almost completely rebuilt Riverside Park. The supersession of railroads by trucking for bringing freight into Manhattan slowly reduced the use of the High Line until it was abandoned in 1980.
Although area property owners almost immediately began lobbying for demolition of the structure, activists challenged demolition in court and began advocating for preservation of the structure as a public open space similar to Paris' Promenade plantee. In 2005, the structure was slated for railbanking and CSX donated the line to the city. Construction began the following year.
I happened to be on a tour of development sites on the West Side with a political economy class from Hunter College when the southern section of the new park opened to the public in June 2009. I returned in August of 2010 just prior to leaving New York City, and it was especially interesting to note the effects of the maturation of the vegetation on the park experience.
The High Line park design was created by a team that included James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, along with additional designers.
The West Side just south of 14th Street used to be home to a large collection of meat packing establishments. Although some remained to give the area an artificial industrial flavor, the meat packing district became dominated by expensive places for beautiful people to socialize.